By Gabriel Olawale
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark 2018 International Youth Day, Youth Empowerment Foundation, YEF and other stakeholders advocating for reproductive health needs of adolescents has decree lack of safe spaces and safe services for young people in Nigeria.
Speaking during a media round table organized by Development Communications Network, Executive Director, YEF, Iwalola Akin-Jimoh said that within the community, there are no safe spaces nor safe services for young people.
“This makes Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV less of a threat than pregnancy as far as young people are concerned. Abortion still remains an easy way out of a precarious situation.
Iwalola pointed out that young people’s needs for friendly services are of utmost importance now more than ever, “ what used to be a safe space for young people before such as schools, homes, faith based institutions are no longer safe.
Iwalola who was represented by the Programme Manager of YEF, Tolulope Oshoba regretted that parents and guardians are not available or seen, and young people are frequently subjected to extensive physical, emotional and sexual abuses.
“How do we create safe spaces? Taking responsibility for children’s safety, continuous empowerment on life skills, encouraging young people to speak out/speak up among others. As such, all hands must be on deck to ensure that we preserve the physical, emotional and cultural safety in spaces so young people can be/perform optimally.
Corroborating her view, Behavioural Management Coach, Wemimo Adebiyi, who spoke on Adolescents and Youths Sexuality & Reproductive Health Information, said that adults make big difference when they talk to young ones about sex and maturity when it comes to their sexuality.
“These are proven ways we can help prevent teen pregnancy, reduce our teens’ chances of getting STDs, and help ensure that they lead healthy and rewarding lives. It’s best to start talking with children about sexuality early. For young children, you can start by teaching them the names of their body parts or asking if they know why girls and boys look different.
“If a five-year-old asks, ‘What is birth?’ we might respond, ‘When a baby comes out of a mother’s body.’ If a 10-year-old asks the same question, our answer would have more detail and might begin with, “After nine months of growing inside its mother’s uterus, a baby comes out through her vagina.”
“Providing young people with information that is age-appropriate makes it easier for them to understand that sex is a natural part of human and emotional development but it is meant for an appropriate time (Avoid saying “it is for daddy & mummy).”
It also makes it easier to talk with them about the more complicated aspects of sexual intimacy as they get older.
“So, in addition to conveying what you know about sexual relationships, it’s important to talk with teens about abstinence, preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It helps to think ahead of time about what messages we want to express.
“Lack of adequate information on the part of the adolescents about contraception has also been found to be responsible for the unplanned pregnancy among adolescents, this in most cases end in unsafe abortion,” She explained.